REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS TRAP JAW
Cyborgs, that is, cybernetic beings that are part human (or at least part organic) and part machine have been popular for -- well, ever since someone imagined the technology even in a fictional sense. And they've turned up just about everywhere since.
The first cyborg that ever really gained significant popularity was The Six Million Dollar Man, a hugely popular TV show in the 1970's, based, interestingly enough, on a novel titled "Cyborg". And let us not forget the Terminator, certainly. There are two different characters in DC Comics called "Cyborg", one a hero, one a villain who also goes by the name of "Cyborg Superman". Then of course there are the eerie Borg from Star Trek.
There's been no shortage of cyborg toys, as far as that goes. The original G.I. Joe gave us Mike Power, the Atomic Man. The 3-3/4" line provided us with Cyber-Vipers, Overkill, and Robo-J.O.E. The popular Micronauts from Mego were said to be cyborgs of a sort.
So it's no great surprise that a cyborg turned up in Masters of the Universe, even if he was initially a little comical looking compared to other cyborgs we had encountered here and there. His name is TRAP JAW, and he's one of Skeletor's minions, as well as a recent addition to the massively popular MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS line.
Trap Jaw's main cybernetic components are a ridged, mechanical jaw, and a right arm with interchangeable parts. I looked up some history on the character, for the purposes of this review.
Trap Jaw was one of the first characters to be designed for the Masters of the Universe toy line. According to the line's creator Roger Sweet, he was inspired by the character "Jaws" from the James Bond film "Moonraker", although many also speculate his design stems from the character of Iron Jaw from Mattel's earlier toy line Big Jim, to whom Trap Jaw bears more than a passing resemblance.
That "Jaws" reference didn't surprise me a bit. I'm honestly not familiar with the Big Jim character, although apparently he was part of the extended Big Jim line that carried on in Europe, especially Italy, well after the line had ceased in the United States. A description I found of him describes him as "having a metal lower jaw and a prosthetic arm ending in a hook which can be exchanged with other extensions".
The first story to feature Trap Jaw is the mini-comic "The Menace of Trap Jaw", packaged with his action figure, which portrays him as a psychotic criminal from another dimension, notably seen with a green body instead of his regular blue, whom Skeletor accidentally brings back with him on a return journey from the alien dimension. Trap Jaw lands inside Castle Grayskull and manages to harness the castle's power, almost enabling him to defeat He-Man. He-Man and Skeletor make an unprecedented effort to combine their powers, joining each half of the Sword of Power, yet holding on together. After the power is swiped back, Skeletor takes the injured Trap Jaw with him as a new servant.
I love stories where the good guy and the bad guy have to team up to defeat somebody even more dangerous.
Despite being a semi-regular on the cartoon, Trap Jaw only had one more major role in a mini-comic (The Tale of Teela) and two minor appearances (Masks of Power and Double-Edged Sword).
Trap Jaw was introduced into the accompanying animated series by Filmation, in the show's pilot episode "Diamond Ray of Disappearance" in which Skeletor describes him as a "wizard of weapons". He goes on to become one of the most frequently used villains of the series, usually paired alongside Beast-Man. His character portrayal is significantly toned down from the psychotic mass murderer of the mini-comics to render him more suitable for a younger audience. He is therefore portrayed generally as bold but coarse, bumbling, and incompetent, one of the least intelligent of Skeletor's warriors, played mostly for laughs.
However, he still has his moments in the spotlight, most notably in the episode "Double-Edged Sword", in which he goes after the mineral Eternium, Eternia's most powerful mineral which powers the Royal Kingdom, and eats it, giving him power equal to that of He-Man. He also occasionally shows mechanical expertise.
In the series outline, Trap Jaw was a criminal, who became stranded on Infinita, and fell under the command of Skeletor.
Trap Jaw is used in the 2002 relaunch of the Masters of the Universe toy line and cartoon series. His appearance is slightly modified to appear more menacing, although strangely in the cartoon his metal jaw is not actually part of his body, but is being worn over a normal jaw.
Although his appearance may have been more intimidating, his character portrayal is generally in-keeping with his 1980s counterpart and the cartoon portrays him mostly as another of Skeletor's bumbling assistants. His biggest role is in the episode "Trust", which makes links with the classic episode "Double-Edged Sword", featuring Trap Jaw again heading after the mineral Eternium to gain invincibility.
The 2002 episode "The Beginning" features a background story for Trap Jaw, revealing him to have once been a blue-skinned criminal named Kronis.
The cartoon's accompanying comic series, also reveals Kronis was repaired by Tri-Klops who turned him into the being he is today, and after the damage he suffered at Skeletor's hands he has remained loyal to him ever since.
The cartoon shows him in his original form of Kronis twice: first at the beginning of the show's pilot episode, then in flashback in the episode "The Price of Deceit".
The new toyline also features a repaint of Trap Jaw, with a green torso and a silvery mechanical arm. This look may well have been inspired by Trap Jaw's almost identical appearance in the original line's mini comic "The Menace Of Trap Jaw".
That comment about a "more intimidating" appearance is something of an understatement. Of course, the characters in the 2002 animated series were based on the more radically-designed Masters action figures of the same time period, and in Trap Jaw's case, the figure honestly looks like he was mostly designed by Mattel, but his cybernetic arm looks like something that was subcontracted to Todd McFarlane Toys and turned out by someone in their Movie Maniacs line.
It was this rather notable dichotomy between the two established Trap Jaws -- and admittedly that insane cybernetic arm of the second Trap Jaw was a popular feature among fans -- that really made me wonder how Trap Jaw was going to be handled for his third incarnation. Admittedly, the Masters of the Universe Classics line takes a lot, perhaps even a majority of its cues from the original Masters line. But they're not above bending the rules.
I was even more curious when I learned that the history for Classics Trap Jaw would rely heavily on the 2002 backstory (granted the original line didn't have a whole lot in this regard), even to including some pre-cybernetic components for the figure.
Trap Jaw sold out so quickly the day he was offered on the MattyCollector Web Site, along with Battle Cat, the other Masters item being offered that month, that Mattel had to make a very quick announcement that both would be put back into production.
So, with all that in mind, how is the toy? Extremely impressive. Trap Jaw has a rather bright green face. Precisely how this happened along with the need for a replacement jaw and arm has never been fully explained, since Kronis' face is the same dark blue as the rest of the body. Perhaps it's just something unique to whatever humanoid species Trap Jaw comes from.
The Trap Jaw face borders on the goofy. This is something Mattel is going to have to watch a little bit. Some characters, such as Buzz Off and a few others, were very difficult to take the least bit seriously in their original incarnations, and yet were vastly improved, appearance-wise, in the 2002 line. Now, in Trap Jaw's case, he leans a little more towards the goofy classic version. On the other hand, the facial structure of the 2002 Trap Jaw had this horrible withered look, like he'd started to zombify or something. Under the circumstances, I'll take the slightly goofier look, but there are some characters in the series that, as such time as Mattel and the Four Horsemen get around to them, they're going to have to tread a line a little more carefully.
Trap Jaw has rather bugged out yellow eyes with tiny pupils. He is wearing what looks like a reddish-purple football helmet, as much as anything. It has a grey stripe down the center of it, and a little grey loop on the top. I've never quite understood what this was for, and Trap Jaw has always had it. It serves no practical function as far as the character is concerned that I have ever been aware of.
Trap Jaw's body, the exposed parts of which include his upper torso, the uppermost parts of his legs, and portions of his left arm, ate a dark turquoise blue in color. This is apparently the natural skin color for Trap Jaw, since the Kronis head included with the figure also has this coloration. The right side of Trap Jaw's upper body is covered by a black mechanical sheath. Emerging from his right shoulder is a cybernetic arm. It is relatively narrow in appearance. To Mattel's great credit, the cybernetic arm is as well articulated as the standard arm. It is poseable at the shoulder, upper-arm swivel, and elbow. Whatever attachment is put into place on the lower arm will also rotate, allowing for a sort of wrist articulation. Trap Jaw's arm extensions include a claw, a hook, and a futuristic blaster.
How is the arm, relative to its predecessors? Well, it looks more impressive than the original by far, but it's probably closer to it than to the truly scary mechanical nightmare that the 2002 Trap Jaw carried around with him. And that's probably just as well.
Trap Jaw's left arm is his original, but has a certain amount of metallic blue armor attached to it, as does the optional "regular" right arm that comes with the figure. One thing especially impressed me about Trap Jaw -- the figure has more unique, distinctive pieces on it than one might expect. The Masters of the Universe Classics line, not inappropriately, has made great multiple use of standard parts. So did the original line. It's not only a cost-saving move, it's accurate to the characters. Trap Jaw stands out for having quite a few never-before-seen parts, and not just the cybernetic stuff. The left arm has no small amount of armor on it, and the legs feature these high, somewhat mechanical-looking boots. All of these are accurate to the character. It should also be mentioned, though, that all of them can also be used on other characters, that most Masters fans sincerely hope join the line, such as Man-E-Faces, Roboto, and others.
The only real previously-seen standard parts on Trap Jaw are his torso and loincloth, the latter of which in this case is the same reddish-purple as his helmet. Trap Jaw is also wearing a bright green belt, a huge wide thing that looks like a pro wrestler's title belt in size if not in color, with a "skull and crossbones" in the center of it, painted silver, along with a series of silver rivets along the perimeter. It also has two large loops on the side, which are intended for Trap Jaw to carry his additional arm extensions.
Painted detail is superb. The black areas of the figure, which include the arm, chestplate, a loop around the left shoulder, and the boots, have metallic blue detail painted within them, that against the black background is bright enough so that it almost looks as though it's glowing. The boots also have some bright green trim on them, in keeping with the figure's original design.
Of course, Trap Jaw is superbly articulated. He is poseable at the head, arms, upper-arm swivels, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivels, knees, lower leg swivels, and ankles. On my figure, one ankle is a bit loose, but not so the figure doesn't stand up on his own. The jaw is also articulated. It opens to reveal the interior of the mouth, which frankly is a pretty hideous thing. Trap Jaw's probably better off keeping his trap shut.
Trap Jaw is probably the best accessorized figure to date, which is hardly surprising. He has his three arm extensions, which include the aforementioned blaster, hook, and claw -- and the claw actually works, but he also has the Kronis head and left arm. Both of these pieces are superbly well done. The "natural" right arm is a dead on match for the left. The head is very well made. The facial expression is similar to Trap Jaw's, but obviously it lacks the cybernetic jaw. The eyes aren't nearly as crazed-looking, either, and the skin is the same dark turquoise as the rest of the body. Interestingly enough, the top of the helmet lacks that inexplicable little loop.
As has become customary for the Masters of the Universe Classics figures since their inception, there is an impressive backstory for Trap Jaw on the back of the package, printed on a scroll-like "file card". I sincerely appreciate this sort of thing. Back in the 80's, it got started with G.I. Joe. The original Masters never really picked it up, but it's certainly been used by any number of action figure lines since, and I'm glad that the Masters are doing it now. Trap Jaw's reads as follows:
TRAP JAW - Evil and Armed for Combat
Real Name: Kronis
An insane criminal from the dimension of Infinita, Kronis was one of several evil warriors freed from an intergalactic prison by Keldor to bolster his ranks during the start of the Great Unrest. After serving Keldor for years, Kronis grew ambitious and raised an army of his own to challenge his master. Now a powerful Overlord of Evil, Skeletor defeated Kronis - breaking his jaw and arm and leaving him for dead. Found and rebuilt by Tri-Klops, Kronis was transformed by him into Trap Jaw, a man armed with combat weapons and an "iron jaw".
And maybe I should be talking to Tri-Klops about the loop in the helmet. Anyway, the file card reads well, and is a reasonable combination of original and modern origin and backstories. Sometimes these combinations work better than others. This one, I believe, works out abundantly well.
So, what's my final word here? Certainly Trap Jaw is one of the better known, classic villains from the Masters of the Universe concept. And he has definitely been rendered very effectively into the new Classics line. Given the vast differences in the cybernetic arm between the original figure and the 2002 version, I do wonder just how hard it was for the Four Horsemen to decide which direction to lean towards, and while they clearly went more classic, it also looks very good in the process. I'm also very pleased that they didn't skimp on the articulation on the cybernetic arms. Having the Kronis parts is also a cool bonus, as that's never been done before with this character.
The Masters of the Universe Classics line continues to impress, and certainly Trap Jaw is an excellent addition to the line. The MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of TRAP JAW definitely has my highest recommendation!